While running some errands about a week ago, I noticed that a place called "Naan Hut" had opened on Santa Monica Blvd. near Colby (nearby landmarks include Emil's Swiss Pastry and the Royal Theater).
I had to run in to see what was up. What was up was a giant oven producing giant sheets of bread (about 2' x 4'). There was also a refrigerated display case next to the counter with scant offerings in the form of Persian/Mediterranean side dishes. There were a few customers lingering and I made a note to self: TRY THIS BREAD AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Yesterday was the day. I was making a fish curry and this would be perfect for mopping up the sauce.
Due to the overwhelming sentiment on Yelp that service was painfully slow, I called ahead and ordered two sheets of sangak (they make a few types of Persian bread in addition to sangak).
A couple of hours later I pulled up and went in there, hoping to get my bread before my car was towed (no parking on S.M. between 4-6). I took a number and took stock of the place. Nothing really seemed to happen, so I mentioned that I had called ahead. He sort of remembered but I could tell it wasn't going to be quick so I moved my car. When I returned, a small crowd was gathering. There were several women giving the older gentleman behind the counter advice in Farsi and I was starting to get worried.
However, all of a sudden I was handed my bread for which I paid $3 per sheet. If I hadn't called ahead I might have had to abandon ship because there were some people in there who looked like they had been there for a LONG time.
Let me tell you - there's nothing like walking down the street with a couple of sheets of this warm bread in your arms. It smelled incredible. As soon as I got into the car I tore off a piece: DAMN is this stuff fanTAStic.
Chewy without being doughy, a slight sesame taste and if you set your oven at about 175 you can keep it warm for a while without drying it out too much.
We served it with cheese before dinner. It's incredible with goat cheese. It was incredible with the curry. We couldn't stop eating it. Overwhelmed by two sheets, I gave one to a neighbor. A couple of hours later they wanted to know "Where the hell did you get this, it's incredible!"
In short, Naan Hut needs to stay open, and we need to somehow get the message to this guy that he needs help in the service department. I say, "this guy" because it seems like the older gentleman behind the counter is the proprieter. He is distracted and not up to speed (to say the least) and I think that it goes beyond being newly opened.
Despite the indignant claims of many Yelpers, the slow service has NOTHING to do with being a non-Persian. I was the only non-Iranian in the joint (trust me - no one is going to mistake me for Persian) and I got the fastest service, almost certainly because I had called ahead. I witnessed many being treated with the same polite confusion that I experienced.
Naan Hut should be a local treasure but I fear that it will be a just-another-restaurant closure if the service doesn't change. The bread is so good as to make you cry, but the service is so bad as to produce a different sort of tears.
All they're doing is making bread - this is not a complicated operation. If he got that going, then maybe the side dish display case could become more functional (the few things that were in there looked nice).
You owe it to yourself to try this bread, but plan ahead and don't be in a hurry. And if you're feeling like giving Naan Hut a little push, print out this review and hand it to him when you finally get your bread.
11551 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Open daily, 8-8
Emil's Swiss Pastry
11551 Santa Monica Blvd 90025, Los Angeles, CA 90025